Monday, February 22, 2010

Black History: Ernie Davis' legacy lives on long after his death

The Browns honored Ernie Davis by retiring his No. 45, even though he never played a down in the NFL.

Ernie Davis' only real NFL footnote was that, as part of a trade between Washington and Cleveland in 1962, he became the first black player drafted first overall. In joining the Browns, the fleet, 6-foot-2, 210-pound Davis was to be paired with the legendary Jim Brown.

It was to be the most incredible assemblage of running back talent ever.

"Nothing would have equaled Ernie Davis and Jim Brown," former Browns owner Art Modell said.

But it wasn't to be.

Davis was diagnosed with a highly toxic form of leukemia shortly after being drafted out of Syracuse University, where he starred at halfback and defensive back. He died May 18, 1963. He was 23.

For 45 years, nearly twice as long as Davis lived, his legend held strong among friends, acquaintances, fans and family members. The stories have grown more hushed over time, as some of those who knew him have died or grown to where their recollection has become somewhat of a faint memory.

"The Express," a film chronicling Davis' brief but impactful life, re-introduces Davis to the world this week. It is a dramatized story, but it captures the essence of a man who was one of the greatest college football players of his time and the first Negro -- his societal designation in that era -- to win the Heisman Trophy, college football's greatest prize.

"I've lived these things, the Ernie Davis story," Brown said in a recent interview. "It is a great story, but Ernie Davis is not new to me. He was a guy who had all this talent. A good dude. Everybody loved him. White. Black. We were dealing in the most volatile times in America -- the '60s. There was Malcolm (X), Elijah (Muhammad), Huey (Newton) and Stokely (Carmichael), Angela (Davis), J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, John Kennedy. Ernie, me, we were in all of that.

"He found a way through it all. He had that thing."


Haiti earthquake death toll 'could reach 300,000', claims president

By Mail Foreign Service

The death toll of the Haiti earthquake could reach up to 300,000, according to the country’s president.

Speaking after arriving in Mexico yesterday for international aid meetings, Rene Preval said the figure could soar once all the victims’ bodies are recovered from the wreckage.

'You have seen the pictures, you know the numbers, more than 200,000 bodies picked up in the streets, counting those that are still underneath the rubble, perhaps we could arrive at 300,000 deaths,' he said.

Black ribbons tied to a metal cross flutter in the wind on a hilltop above the mass grave site where many thousands of quake victims are buried.

Aid talks: Mexican President Felipe Calderon, right, greets Haiti's Rene Preval during the meeting of the Caribbean Community in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Haiti's government has placed the death toll of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which caused devastation in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on January 12, at between 170,000 and 230,000.


•British mother, 50, dead after floods and mudslides kill at least 42 on island of Madeira

The latest estimate of casualty figures would mean the death toll is higher than that of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, in which 200,000 died.

Yesterday, Preval highlighted an urgent need for emergency shelter for the impoverished Caribbean nation, where 1.5 million people are living in squalid tent camps made of bedsheets and plastic scraps.

Destruction: Preval claims as many as 300,000 people could have been killed in the Haiti earthquake which destroyed the country's capital Port-au-Prince

The death toll of the Haiti earthquake could reach up to 300,000, according to the country’s president.

Shelter: Earthquake survivors are forced to live in squalid tent camps made of bedsheets and plastic scraps after the 7.0 magnitude quake destroyed homes

Fears of disease outbreaks have also been raised due to poor sanitation and with the beginning of the rainy season in March.

Arriving for the regional summit near the Mexican town of Playa del Carmen, Preval said: ‘The first rainy days in Port-au-Prince have made it impossible to enjoy a dignified life and this is the reason for the request for shelters.’

He called on Latin American countries to increase industry investments to help Haiti back on its feet, adding: 'I want to thank the Mexican people with all my heart’, for the aid the country has sent so far.

According to the International America Development bank, the reconstruction of Haiti could cost as much as £9billion.

Heroic Mayoral Aide Struck by Hit and Run Driver

A 22-year-old Bloomberg administration employee is brain dead after yesterday morning's hit-and-run on Flatbush Avenue and Prospect Place in Brooklyn, while her 23-year-old friend was left with a broken collarbone. The police are looking for the driver of a green 1993 Acura Legend that was abandoned blocks away from the scene.

According to the Daily News, Erinn Phelan, a coordinator in the mayor's city volunteerism effort, had shoved Alma Guererro out of the car's path. Guererro's father said, "[Alma] was going to be hit, but her friend pushed her out of the way. Her friend took the worst of it. Her friend pushed her in order to save her." A taxi driver who witnessed the incident and called the police with the car's license number said, "I heard a big boom. Then she took off. She started driving faster and [passed] me. It was a young woman driving. I followed the car."

The Post reports, "A source [said] that the women were in the middle of the crosswalk on Flatbush Avenue when they were hit, but it was not clear whether they had the light." Additionally, the Acura is registered to 31- (or 32-) year-old Bronx resident Cindy Jasmin, whose mother told the Post, "I don't know about any accident. She does not live here. She does not own a green Acura."

Phelan's family is reportedly deciding whether to keep her on life support. Mayor Bloomberg said, "When I spoke to Erinn's parents earlier today, I told them that as a father I can't begin to imagine what they are going through, but all of our prayers are with their dedicated and idealistic young daughter who's helping New York City answer President Obama's historic call to service."

USA Hockey Beats Team Canada For the First Time in Over 50 Years

by Bungalow Bill

There is one Olympic story I don't mind hearing again and again. You know what I mean. There are those Olympic stories that get dug up every four years, and you think oh no, not again. The 1980 US Olympic hockey team's Gold Medal isn't one of those stories. In 1980, a hockey team gave a nation hope for its future--far more hope than a black man running for president throwing around the phrase hope and change.

Since 1980, USA Hockey hasn't met the same success, and so we live for the days of old when many thought the best days of America were over as we watched the news each night of the doom and gloom of the Carter years--hostages in Iran, stagflation, outrageous interest rates, a dead housing market, and a weakened and ignored military.

So it's with some irony and hope for the future that we are seeing success this year with the US men's hockey team as they beat Canada yesterday for the first time in 50 years. The only problem is, when the 1980 hockey team won, we were at the end of the Carter era, and there isn't a Ronald Reagan figure in the Republican party to save the country with common sense conservatism. We still have just less than three years of surviving under Obama.

Ron Paul’s CPAC Poll Victory: What Does It Mean?

A lot of jaws dropped yesterday when the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference announced the results of their presidential straw poll (pdf).

In a surprise victory, Ron Paul far outpaced his GOP rivals with 31%. Mitt Romney, who has won in several previous CPAC polls came in second with 22%. Sarah Palin, a presumed conservative favorite, trailed badly with only 7%.

So what might have contributed to these unexpected results? For one thing, it is not possible to make general representations about the CPAC attendees. Only 2,395 of them (out of approximately 10,000) voted in the poll. That means that 70% abstained. And there was no effort to develop representative sampling, so the results can’t be extrapolated to the attendees at large.

Ron Paul has fired up a certain segment of conservatives with his independent streak and appeal to anti-government types. But he is also 74 years old (a year older than John McCain) and a plurality of CPAC voters (48%) were students. Apparently that demographic split didn’t hurt Paul. It may, in fact, point to the more anarchistic bent of youth, while older establishment conservatives lean toward the comfort food candidacy of Mitt Romney.

Some analysts have attributed Palin’s poor showing to her not showing. She announced weeks ago that she would not be attending CPAC in favor of the Tea Baggers Ball in Nashville. Of course there was nothing stopping her from going to both - except that the Tea Baggers paid her a hundred grand and CPAC is a gratis affair. Also, presidential hopefuls Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee all showed up, gave warmly received speeches, and finished below no-show Palin.

Some other questions posed in the poll may shed light on the presidential numbers. For instance, most voters (53%) were unsatisfied with the current crop of candidates. An overwhelming majority cite smaller government, a key Paul issue, as their main goal. Issues championed by Palin, like traditional values (9%) and national security (7%), were far less important to this crowd. And bombast seems to be out of favor judging by the high negatives of Glenn Beck (27%) and Rush Limbaugh (27%). You would think that number would get more attention. Nearly a third of CPACers have a negative view of their most prominent spokesmen. For some reason, Palin was not included in the favorability question. Not to worry. Perhaps that’s for the best as a recent poll showed that she is not particularly welcome in the 2012 race anyway. 71% said they did not want her to run. That included 56% of Republicans, 65% of Independents, and even 58% of conservatives.

So what does it all mean? The Hell if I know. The only thing that I come away from this with is the certainty that the roster of also-rans in this poll will shortly be adopting more of Ron Paul’s policies and rhetoric.

Schwarzenegger slams GOP stimulus hypocrisy

Many Republican politicians have railed against the stimulus while praising or taking credit for stimulus money provided to their districts. One prominent Republican governor is calling out his colleagues' hypocrisy.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was proud to accept stimulus dollars for his state praised the program for creating or saving over 150,000 jobs. "I have been the first governor of the Republican governors to come out and to support the stimulus money because I say to myself, this is terrific," Schwarzenegger told ABC's Terry Moran Sunday.

In contrast to many Republicans, the California governor believes the stimulus has created public and private sector jobs. "Anyone that says that it hasn't created the jobs, they should talk to the 150,000 people that have been getting jobs in California," he said.

Schwarzenegger lashed out at those GOP politicians who voted against the bill then took credit for benefits provided to their states. "Well, you know, to me I find it interesting that you have a lot of the Republicans running around and pushing back on the stimulus money and saying this doesn't create any new jobs, and then they go out and they do the photo ops and they are posing with the big check and they say, 'Isn't this great?'" said Schwarzenegger.

CNN Poll: Most Americans (86 %) Think American Government is 'Broken'

What do you think? Is America broken? Is our system of government broken? Or are the people that 'rule' us simply broken? All of the above? For what it's worth, the Left Coast Rebel believes that our Constitutional Republic is intact but under incredible stress from the so-called leadership that we are suffering under. This 'leadership' that has accelerated the fiscal mishap of the previous administration. The question is, since the percentage of Americans believing that our system is broken being so high - can we turn this belief, this mood into substantive change to bring our nation closer to it's founding? Can we do this through the Tea Party movement - despite what numbskulls like Arnold Schwarzenegger say?

Washington (CNN) - Americans overwhelmingly think that the government in this country is broken, according to a new national poll. But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Sunday morning, also indicates that the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.

Eighty-six percent of people questioned in the poll say that our system of government is broken, with 14 percent saying no. Of that 86 percent, 81 percent say that the government can be fixed, with 5 percent saying it's beyond repair.

Going Against The Will Of The People Obama To Propose Giving Feds NEW POWER!

Obama will propose giving feds NEW POWER to block 'excessive rate increases' by health insurance companies.

NY Times


Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive legislation to revamp the nation’s health care system, White House officials said Sunday.

By focusing on the effort to tighten regulation of insurance costs, a new element not included in either the House or Senate bills, Mr. Obama is seizing on outrage over recent premium increases of up to 39 percent announced by Anthem Blue Cross of California and moving to portray the Democrats’ health overhaul as a way to protect Americans from profiteering insurers.

Congressional Republicans have long denounced the Democrats’ legislation as a “government takeover” of health care. And while they are likely to resist any expansion of federal authority over existing state regulators, they will face a tough balancing act at the meeting with the president to avoid appearing as if they are willing to allow steep premium increases like those by Anthem.

The White House has held details of Mr. Obama’s bill extremely tight, leaving even top Democrats in Congress anxiously awaiting the text to be released Monday.

The Obama administration has sought to portray the situation as a warning of what could happen to many more Americans if Congress does not act to overhaul the health system.

The president’s bill would grant the federal health and human services secretary new authority to review, and to block, premium increases by private insurers, potentially superseding state insurance regulators. The bill would create a new Health Insurance Rate Authority, made up of health industry experts that would issue an annual report setting the parameters for reasonable rate increases based on conditions in the market.

Officials said they envisioned the provision taking effect immediately after the health care bill is signed into law.

The legislation would call on the secretary of health and human services to work with state regulators to develop an annual review of rate increases, and if increases are deemed “unjustified” the secretary or the state could block the increase, order the insurer to change it, or even issue a rebate to beneficiaries.

The new rate board would be composed of seven members, including consumer representatives, an insurance industry representative, a physician and other experts like health economists and actuaries, the White House said. The board’s annual report would offer guidance to the public and states on whether rate increases should be approved.

Shutter Island film review: marred by the saw-it-coming syndrome

by Luke Buckmaster
After treating audiences to new-fangled old-school gangster shenanigans in the slashing The Departed (2006), legendary ‘movie brat’ director Martin Scorsese returns to the somewhat less laudable genre of what-was-he-thinking cinematic experiments with Shutter Island. This retro remote location spook-fest has a sublimely eerie atmosphere – you can always rely on Scorsese to paint some pretty pictures – but is hamstrung by a problematic screenplay, which incongruously culminates with one of the most predictable “surprise” twists associated with this breed of so-called psychological storytelling.

The last decade has been patchy for Scorsese, with the muddled historical fiction of Gangs of New York (2002), the cold, dispassionate portrayal of Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004) and the nightmarish vision of a singing and dancing skeleton aka Mick Jagger and his over-the-hill entourage in Shine a Light (2008). Aside from The Departed, Scorsese’s made-for-TV Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home was his major saving grace.

It’s obvious from the early, striking, Shining-esque moments of Shutter Island that this is going to be an old-fashioned thriller – a label that unfortunately applies not just to the period style through which it is told but to the passé final “revelation” the audience are asked to absorb, as if they couldn’t possibly have seen it coming.

The year is 1954 and U.S. marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are summoned to a remote island where a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane is masterminded by the calm wisdom contained within the shiny skull of Ben Kingsley, who plays the seemingly compassionate but not entirely co-operative Dr Cawley.
A murderer has escaped from her cell and no one can figure out how. Daniels – the hard-nosed, straight-talkin’ type – starts sniffing around the tracks, interviewing inmates and staff while grappling with his own problems – namely coming to terms with traumatic flashbacks to WWII and strange dreams about his ex-wife Dolores (Michelle Williams). With DiCaprio’s ever-boyish looks it’s a smidge difficult to believe his character is old enough to experience wartime atrocities, even if the film is based only a decade after the end of the war, but that grievance feels infinitesimally minor compared with what is coming up: a twist 101 ending that was always going to goad sceptical audiences into a fresh round of Scorsese bashing.

The ever-bold filmmaker layers Shuttle Island with atmospheric aplomb, combining a thudding score and superb set detail with moody, heavily stylised use of colour. The technical properties do not disappoint. There is a sublimely twisted dream sequence in which Dolores’s sweat and tears drip into a pool of blood on the floor as the ashes from her singed body rain down in the room, and a bone-chilling tracking shot of mass execution at a POW camp. Some of the dialogue is also right on the money – particularly a spooky exchange between Daniels and a panicked crazy woman (Patricia Clarkson) that takes place in a cave off a rocky cliff face guarded by thousands of scurrying rats.

DiCaprio is terrific as Daniels, a performance concocted as a mixture of fear, bravery, pig-headedness and inner turmoil. When the character’s memories and present-day reality begin to merge, audiences will begin to suspect that some kind of narrative trickery is afoot – and this is about the point at which this should-have-been-great thriller becomes a point of divisiveness and debate. Champions of the film may argue that carrying on about the ultra predictable twist may be missing the point – but in the context of narrative sleights such discussion is par for course.

Attempting to implement a surprise ending is always risky business. Audiences are instinctively hostile when they cotton on to the idea that a storyteller is playing intellectual funny buggers with them, that crucial information is being deliberately withheld. If the viewer picks the twist too early, and/or the filmmaker invests too heavily in it, the experience as a whole can be soured if the person watching believes they’re two steps ahead of the characters and therefore intellectually superior to the storyteller. The end of The Shining is a fine example of a well implemented twist: the final revelation is articulated in the very last shot, after the story has succeeded or failed on its own merits.

Not so for Shutter Island. A considerable portion of the final act is devoted to explaining to the audience what we more or less knew anyway, what we saw coming as sure as light is day and dark is night. Coupled with regular insinuations beforehand that there is something we don’t know, it’s an unsatisfying resolution to a largely well-told story. A bit of ambiguity, or a double twist ending, might have saved it. No such luck.

Shutter Island’s Australian theatrical release date: February 18, 2010

Coke Fiend Gordon Brown Calls Anti-Bullying Hotline About Rupert Murdoch

THE ELECTION looms and Gordon Brown and David Cameron are striving to see if they can whip the country into frenzy of side-taking not seen since Team Katie took on Team Peter.

Look out for tears on the telly (Gordon’s done that on Piers Morgan), loadsa airbrushing and a debate on which of Dave and Gordon is going to f*** the country in a reverse cowboy.

The Sun has taken side and now piles in on Gordon Brown by calling him the “PRIME MONSTER”.
News is that:

“Scared Downing St staff called anti-bullying helpline”

Know that:

STAFF working for Gordon Brown at No10 have contacted an anti-bullying helpline amid claims they live in terror of the PM, it emerged last night. The revelation follows allegations Mr Brown verbally attacked and manhandled staff.

Brown denies the allegations of bullying put in a new book The End Of The Party by political commentator Andrew Rawnsley. Says Brown:

“If I get angry, I get angry with myself … I throw the newspapers on the floor or something like that, but please … I was brought up – my father, I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone and I always think when you’re – the heat of the moment you say things some time, of course you do get angry, mostly with yourself.”

On that theme, was Osama bin Laden’s dad prone to tempers tantrums or a bastion of peace? Rumours of the Dalai Lama’s dad being a hot-head refuse to go away.

Anyhow, mindful of this, the Sun hears from Christine Pratt, who runs the National Bullying Helpline. The vested–interest group weighs in:

“We have had three or four calls from within his office.”

What was said? Threats?

“Over recent months we have had several inquiries from staff within Gordon Brown’s office. Some called our helpline directly and I have spoken to staff in his office.”

In the strictest confidence, of course. As for the accsations:

In an explosive new book Mr Brown is accused of:

Accusation: “TURFING a stunned secretary out of her chair and taking over her keyboard because she was ‘not typing fast enough’.”

Spin: He can do it all.

Accusation: “SHOVING aside and swearing at long-serving senior adviser Stewart Wood after he arranged a lunchtime reception for EU ambassadors.”

Spin: EU scum!

Accusation: “The PM is said to have told Mr Wood: ‘Why are you making me meet these f****** people?’”

Spin: Well, why? Scum!

Accusation: “LEAPING across a room and grabbing Deputy Chief of Staff Gavin Kelly by the collar after Revenue and Customs lost disks containing personal data of 20 million people.”

Spin: You’ll believe a man can fly!

Accusation: “SWINGING back his arm and clenching his fist after getting more unwelcome news while in the back of his official car.”

Spin: All the guns are in Afghanistan.

Accusation: “BECOMING ‘incandescent’ when he heard a paper was to reveal his conference speech borrowed phrases from US politicians.”

Spin: Brown is an alternative source of het and light.

Accusation: “THROWING Coke cans and pens at staff.”

Spin: Pens and Coke all round! Who wants crisps?

In other news, a ‘Mr GB’ has called the Anti-bullying hotline to complain about Rupert Murdoch. All call are treated in the strictest confidence, so we can’t tell you that GB said that he’d like to punch the little **** in the throat…

AIDS spread can be curbed by anti-retroviral drugs

According a leading scientist within five years it was possible in South Africa to stop AIDS by using anti-retroviral treatments (ARVs) and mass screening.

According to Dr Brian William who is at the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis (Sacema) in Stellenbosch, yearly cost of administering drugs to HIV-positive people who are about six million would be 2-3 billion dollars.

If the disease is detected early then transmission could be prevented by timely treatment. Only 30 per cent people get the drug at present.

According to Williams who has worked in the field of HIV since long now an effective vaccine was still far away.

"The tragedy is that the disease continues unabated. The only real success story is the development of these extremely effective drugs that keep people alive and reduce their viral load by up to 2,000 times. They become close to non-infectious,” he said.

Williams also argued that most people have already infected those who would have been infected otherwise also by the time they started ART.

"We’ve been using drugs to save lives, but not stop the infection. It’s time to look beyond that," he said.

Everyone in South Africa would be on ARV within five years if clinical trials started in time.

Ron Paul conquers CPAC – obliterates all opponents in straw poll

A small thespian for Sunday morning? Sure. would have been easier just to say that Ron Paul won the presidential straw check during CPAC.

Skip to subsequent divide Jimmy Orr

Jimmy has outlayed the infancy of his career in governing body together with portion as White House Spokesman as good as Internet Director for President George W. Bush as good as Special Advisor to Gov. Schwarzenegger for Internet Communications.

Recent posts

Ok. Ron Paul won the presidential straw check during CPAC.

It doesn’t utterly have that mad Max Beyond Thunderdome feel to it, yet conjunction did the eventuality — exclusive the little important exceptions. the annual Conservative Political Action Conference resolved yesterday in Washington, DC as good as 31 percent of the nearly 2,400 electorate pronounced they elite the libertarian from Texas.

He kick Sarah Palin?

Based on perfect media bearing you wouldn’t think this would be the outcome. If time in the spotlight meant winning the contest, Sarah Palin would be the definite champion.

Palin’s been in the headlines for, well, uh, everything. she skipped the discussion this year as good as although watched portions of it, seemed some-more meddlesome in another race.

“Family is getting ready for Todd’s IronDog race tomorrow,” Palin tweeted. “I’m examination @GlennBeck on TV right away giving #CPAC speech, while racers are in garage.”

Palin came in third place garnering just 7 percent of the vote.

Live prolonged as good as prosper

And afterwards there’s Mitt Romney who perceived copiousness of bearing progressing in the week once his superhuman powers were revealed. Romney allegedly in use the dreaded “Vulcan grip” on the untimely rapper on Planet Nebulon an Air Canada moody final Sunday. We told you about it here.

He was incompetent to keep his hold on electorate during the domestic confab though. the leader of 3 uninterrupted CPAC straw polls, Romney placed second yesterday bringing down twenty-two percent of the vote.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as good as Indiana Rep. Mike Pence each perceived 6 percent of the opinion while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as good as former Arkansas administrator Mike Huckabee each tallied 4 percent.


So is the Ron Paul series “alive as good as well” similar to he told his supporters on Friday night?

Probably not. the straw check doesn’t have the good batting average.

How did Romney applaud his feat during CPAC final year? by soon dropping out of the presidential race.


What can you can clarity from the conference? two things:

1. Watch out for regressive publishing house Andrew Breitbart. He’s not going away.

2. the Tea Party is thriving. The Hotline remarkable the left’s the one preferred transformation to travesty is withdrawal with huge cred.

“Virtually each orator paid loyalty to the transformation that stays loosely defined, praising mercantile patience as good as the renewed appetite between activists protesting the Obama admin’s policies. the media had fun interviewing the man in the tri-cornered shawl as good as “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, yet GOP leaders are doing their most appropriate to incorporate, as good as obeisance to, the movement. Anyone who can uncover they lead the internal Tea Party organisation is withdrawal CPAC with an huge clarity of power, as good as the GOP is all too happy oblige.”

Small plane crashes into home in St. Louis, two killed

A small plane has crashed into a house as it attempted to land at the St. Louis Downtown Airport but due to heavy fog it crashed about five miles away from the runway.

On Sunday evening, a small plane attempting to land at the St. Louis Downtown Airport in heavy fog crashed five miles away from the runway into a house that is on a small grass airstrip, according to St. Louis Today. No one in the house or in the area was killed or injured but two passengers on the plane died.
The plane crashed into a hangar attached to the house, which is owned by aviation buffs, where two other planes and an antique car were parked. A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was flying from Florida to St. Louis and added that two people were on board the plane.
Other officials confirmed that there were no survivors in the crash, while neighbors in the immediate vicinity did not see an airplane but heard noise from the aircraft.
The Washington Post reports that 75 firefighters are at the scene to contain the fire, which one neighbor “saw the fire and heard more explosions, and with each explosion the fire went higher.”

Dubai hit shows Israel won't be safer with exiled terrorists

If Mahmoud al-Mabhouh were sitting in an Israeli prison instead of posthumously starring in the international media, his name would be on the list of prisoners whom Hamas is demanding in exchange for Gilad Shalit. He would almost certainly be one of the "arch-terrorists" that Israel, for its own security, is insisting be barred from the Palestinian territories after their release, a condition that Hamas has refused to accept. On top of this snag, the American government is strenuously opposed to the exchange, on the grounds that a Hamas success in securing the release of hundreds of prisoners would bolster the organization's prestige and highlight the impotence of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

Yet both these arguments are utterly specious, and merely lay bare the obtuseness and shortsightedness prevalent in both Jerusalem and Washington. The wantonly negligent handling of the plight of a young soldier languishing in captivity is characteristic of the policy, or lack thereof, regarding Israel's fate as a Jewish and democratic state.

The Mabhouh case has knocked the bottom out of the argument that Israel will be safer if the worst of the freed terrorists are exiled to Damascus as part of a deal for Shalit. The huge effort put into assassinating Mabhouh in Dubai and the diplomatic and security risks - surely calculated ones - taken by whoever did it are indications of the man's standing in the world of terrorism. Exile, it transpires, can be an ideal hothouse for breeding arch-terrorists.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who gave the okay for the botched attempt to kill Khaled Meshal in Amman in 1997, must have realized by now that it is best to keep the most dangerous and sophisticated prisoners Israel releases close to hand. That way, it is easier to keep track of them. If a brother of Mabhouh, upon returning home after a prison sojourn, were to revert to his evil ways, no Israeli ambassador would be called in to explain the day after he was eliminated.

Netanyahu is aware that Hamas has rejected deportation from the outset. There is no chance that further bargaining will shift it from this position. The only explanation for Israel's insistence on reinforcing the ranks of Meshal's gang in Damascus with vengeance-hungry exiles is that the prime minister does not want to pay the price of the deal.

The price tag of the bigger deal with the Palestinians has also been known for a long time. It was set out in the Clinton parameters of 2000, the Arab peace initiative of 2002, the road map of 2003 and the Annapolis statement of 2007. All of these propose a comprehensive peace in exchange for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, with minor, reciprocal border adjustments and an agreed solution to the refugee problem. In fact, the tariff has remained the same since the PLO's 1988 declaration of an independent Palestinian state.

Netanyahu also avers that he has accepted the principle of two states for two peoples. But after accepting it, he immediately rushed to set impossible conditions: He demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and declared that East Jerusalem, the Ariel bloc and the Jordan Valley would be annexed to Israel. Having heard what his defense minister claims to have offered Yasser Arafat, and being aware of the map that his predecessor laid before Mahmoud Abbas, it is hard to believe that the prime minister thinks he can find a Palestinian partner for what he has in mind.

America's dogged resistance to a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas shows that President Barack Obama fears for the future of the Palestinian peace camp. But instead of moving the peace process forward with that same doggedness, the United States has been attacking the Shalit deal. That is far easier than pressuring Israel to transfer more of Area C to Abbas, remove more roadblocks and make sure that the freeze on settlement construction is not a hoax.

Assassinating exiled terrorists will not defeat Hamas, and thwarting a prisoner exchange will not have a long-term impact on the balance of power in the Palestinian territories. The right way to tackle Hamas is to create a real political alternative to its violent and uncompromising course. In the absence of such an alternative, operations taken from James Bond movies that the foreign media attribute to Israel make this country look like a neighborhood thug and divert attention from the specter of apartheid crouching at the gate.

East Texas Arson Task Force Arrests Two

Today, law enforcement members of the East Texas Church Arson Task Force arrested two men in connection with the 10 church arsons that began on January 1, 2010. These fires occurred in the Henderson, Smith and Van Zandt Counties.

The two men arrested today for arson are Jason Robert Bourque, 19, of Lindale, Texas and Daniel George McAllister, 21, of Ben Wheeler, Texas. Both were arrested without incident. The information leading to the arrest was obtained by a call to the hotline.

"This investigation is not complete. No investigation is finished until guilt is proven in court. But today marks a significant milestone," said Robert Champion, Special Agent in Charge of ATF in Dallas. "The arsons in these communities have been devastating but the citizens have been resilient and aided each other and the investigation."

"Cooperation is the cornerstone to successful investigations and here in East Texas it is no different. ATF has been a proud partner in this case. We had over 70 agents, both local and members of two National Response Teams working on this investigation since the beginning. All agencies involved will continue to work together towards our goal of a successful prosecution of those involved in these crimes," said Champion.

The members of the task force are ATF, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, Athens Police Department and Athens Fire Department Henderson County Fire Marshal's Office, Henderson County Sheriff's Office, Lindale Fire Department, Lindale Police Department, Smith County Fire Marshal's Office, Smith County Fire Marshal, Tyler Fire Department, Tyler Police Department, the Van Zandt County Fire Marshal's Office, the Van Zandt County Fire Marshal, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals.

Two key Taliban commanders detained in S Afghanistan

KABUL, Feb. 22 -- As a joint Afghan-NATO operation against Taliban militants in Marja district of southern Helmand province is in full swing, two Taliban key commanders have been arrested in the neighboring Kandahar province, police said Monday.

"Two key Taliban commanders Mullah Ramazan and Mullah Shikh who had led subversive activities in the western Herat province were detained in Kandahar Sunday night," Abdul Rauf Ahmadi the spokesman for police in west Afghanistan told Xinhua.

The arrested elements were key Taliban leaders in west Afghanistan, Ahmadi stressed.

He also added that the two Taliban commanders went to Kandahar to assist their comrades in the southern region where militants are facing major offensive since February 13.

Ahmadi further said that Mullah Ramazan's brother was arrested in Herat couple of days ago.

Taliban militants have yet to make comment.

Earlier four more key Taliban leaders including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar the outfit's second-in-command have been arrested in Pakistan.